December 1, 2004

SJP


Artist: Emmerson, Les




Born: September 17, 1944 in Ottawa, Ontario

Les Emmerson formed Ottawa's Staccatos in 1963, featuring singer/disc jockey Dean Hagopian, and emerged in the mid-'60's with some recordings on Allied Records. However, their first single of prominence was "Small Town Girl" which was picked up by Paul White for Capitol Records. Through the financial backing of journalist Sandy Gardiner, The Staccatos launched their next release called "Moved To California". In 1966 "Let's Run Away" winning Best Produced Single and Vocal Instrumental Group Of The Year Junos.

They began to receive more notice with gigs in Toronto's Yorkville Village after the release of "Half Past Midnight" (1967) which became a national hit and won another JUNO award for Best Produced Single.

Around this time they hooked up with Coca-Cola Company for some radio jingles and shared half an LP recorded at Hallmark Studios with The Guess Who called 'A Wild Pair' on Jack Richardson's Nimbus Records. The album was a big seller prompting Capitol U.S. to release "Half Past Midnight" along with a commitment to record new material in L.A.

Though they received a lot of hype in California from the record label, the group was seen as being 'too Beach Boy sounding' and The Staccatos records failed. They would soon change their name to The Five Man Electrical Band after the title of The Staccatos second album in 1969 and commuted back and forth to Los Angeles recording sides for Capitol Records. The first single from this batch was "It Never Rains On Maple Lane".

When their deal with Capitol ended they went to the US in 1971 and got a new deal with a little label owned by writer Jimmy Webb and producer Dallas Smith called Lionel Records who released "Hello Melinda Goodbye" instead of the song they'd designated as the B-side, "Signs", which was completely against the advice of their manager, Sandy Gardiner. Gardiner, instead, took the song to Bobby Vee ("Take Good Care Of My Baby") who had a minor hit with it in the southern US.  With pressure from Gardiner, they re-issued "Signs" from the 'Goodbyes & Butterflies' album (with a cover art switch due to a questionable marijuana-looking plant on the original jacket) and the single went to No.3 in the U.S. and No.4 in Canada selling more than 2 million copies worldwide.

Later in 1971 they released "Absolutely Right" which went to No.3 in Canada and Top-20 in the U.S. By 1973 they were exhausted and called it quits, though Emmerson continued recording as Five Man Electrical Band until 1975. After this, he remained in California and started a record label called Perfect with engineer Mark Smith (BTO, Pure Prairie League), Buck Rhinegold and Joe Gottfried. Following this he returned to Ottawa in 1981, resumed a solo career which had actually been going on during the Five Man Electrical Band and played briefly in The Cooper Brothers. He finally opened his own recording facility in the Ottawa area.

In 1986, Five Man Electrical Band reformed for a one-off benefit concert which has lead into a fun Eastern Canada tour every year with no business pressures. The song "Signs" was even revived by hairspray band Tesla in 1990. Emmerson would later buy back the rights to the entire Five Man Electrical Band catalogue (having invested wisely in computer technology) and issued a 'best of' CD in the '90's.

Emmerson had a heart attack the day after his 56th birthday. A STENT procedure was performed on him in Ottawa in September 2000 to repair the heart problem. He currently plays in a revived version of the band and occasionally in the Cooper Brothers. An album's worth of previously unreleased solo material surfaced as a digital release in 2011 on the Sonic Past label called 'The Sound City Sessions'.

with notes from Sandy Gardiner, Greg Simpson and Fred Hinnegan



Singles
1972 Control Of Me/Goin' Through The Motions (Lion/MGM/Polydor) LN-141
1973 Cry Your Eyes Out/That's The Way It Goes (Lion/MGM/Polydor) LN-155
1974 Cliches/[same] (Polydor) PD-14247
1975 Watching The World Go By (Polydor) PD-14269
1977 Dance, She Said/Borderline (RCA) PB-11154

with THE STACCATOS
1965 Do You Mind If I Dance With You, Girl (Allied)
1965 Small Town Girl/If This Is Love (Capitol) 72244
1965 Do You Mind If I Dance With You/Moved To California (Capitol) 72281
1966 It's a Long Way Home/Poor Baby (Capitol) 72329
1966 C'mon Everybody/Let Me See (Capitol) 72371
1966 Let's Run Away/Face To Face (With Love) (Capitol) 72395
1967 Half Past Midnight/Weatherman (Capitol) 72453
1967 Catch The Love Parade/Whisper Words (Capitol) 72497
1968 Walker Street/Supergirl (Capitol) 72526
1968 She Fancies Herself A Lady (Capitol - US) 2126
1968 Didn't Know The Time/We Got Together Well (Capitol - US)  2260

with THE FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND
1969 It Never Rains On Maple Lane/Private Train [Double A-sided single] (Capitol) 2368
1969 Baby/Lovin' Look (Capitol) 2517
1969 Sunrise To Sunset/Little Bit of Love (Capitol) F-2562
1969 Riverboat/Good (Capitol) 2628
1970 Moonshine (Friend Of Mine)/Forever Together (MGM) 14149
1970 Hello Melinda Goodbye/Signs (Lionel/MGM) L-3213
1971 Signs/Hello Melinda (MGM/Polydor) 2065-042
1971 Absolutely Right/(You & I) Butterfly (MGM/Polydor) 2065-089
1971 Absolutely Right/Signs (MGM/Polydor) MGC-5024
1972 Julianna/Friends & Family (Polydor) 2065-103
1972 Devil And Miss Lucy (Lion/Polydor) LN-112
1972 Money Back Guarantee/Find The One (Polydor) 2065-142
1973 I'm A Stranger Here/Doin' The Best We Can Rag (Lion/Polydor) LN-149
1973 Baby Wanna Boogie/Sweet Paradise (Lion/Polydor) LN-160
1974 Werewolf/Country Angel (Polydor) PD-14221
1975 Johnny Get A Gun (Polydor)

Albums
2011 The Sound City Sessions [Digital] (Sonic Past)

with THE STACCATOS
1966 Initially The Staccatos (Capitol) T-6158
1967 A Wild Pair [split album w/The Guess Who] (Nimbus) NNE-100
2008 Half Past Midnight: The Staccatos And Beyond (EMI Music Canada)
2009 First Sparks: The Anthology (1965-1969) (Mouse Hole/Pacemaker/EMI) PACE-076

with THE FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND
1968 The Five Man Electrical Band (Capitol)  ST-165
1971 Goodbyes And Butterflies (MGM/Polydor) 24-2402
1972 Coming Of Age (Lionel/Polydor) LRS-1101
1973 Sweet Paradise (Lion/MGM/Polydor) LN-1009
1974 The Power Of The Five Man Electrical Band (Polydor) PD-6029
1995 Absolutely Right - The Best Of... (Universal) 3145233312

with THE COOPER BROTHERS
1981 Learning To Live With It (Salt)

Video


Compilation Tracks
as LES EMMERSON
1973 "Cry Your Eyes Out" on 'Fantastic' (K-Tel) TC-212
with FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND
1970 "Moonshine (Friend Of Mine)" on 'Moonshine Wars O.S.T.' (MGM) - soundtrack
1990 "Signs" on 'Made In Canada - Volume Three: Eclectic Avenue' (BMG) KCD1-7158
2001 "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" on 'Christmas For Children' (Dark Skippy) DS8-2
2004 "Signs" on "Mustang: 40th Anniversary" (Madacy/Universal) - compilation






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